This past Saturday with the news of Johnny Archer’s participation, 85 players showed up to take part in the Pro event at Dooly’s Valleyfield. The way the Québec Federation sets up these events, they have a guaranteed prize pool of $2700. If these events only average 32 players then a guaranteed prize pool is a great thing. However these Pro tournaments average around 50 players because of staggered entry fee’s.
Professionals are required to pay $100 entry, and everyone else gets in for the bargain price of $30. One of the issues with this system is that whether 32 players show up or 100 players the payouts remain exactly the same. Because of there being so few events in the region for professional players the Pro’s have a “grin and bear it” attitude. Once the organizers realized there was over 80 players registered another curve ball was thrown in.
Because it was not planned to be a two day tournament the organizers decided last minute to change the format. Originally it was to be races to 9 on the winners side and 6 on the losers, this was changed to 7 and 6. Immediately after this announcement several top pro’s such as Danny Hewitt, Martin Daigle, Danny Nguyen and others dropped out of the tournament. Alain Martel predicted this outcome the day before and for other reasons decided not to show up at all.
Despite this bit of controversy the pool tournament did proceed. The first match for Archer was against a very strong AAA player from Valleyfield, Dominic Legault. With this only being a race to 7 winner breaks, this tournament was set up for upsets. For a while it looked like Legault was about to shock everyone and put Archer to the losers side early as he was stringing racks together in front of the hometown crowd. In the end Archer Prevailed 7-5.
Archer continued on through the winners side beating World Speed Pool Champion Luc “the Machine Gun” Salvas 7-3, and house Pro from St. Hyacinthe Ghislain Champagne. On paper because of those who did not participate, these where Archers two toughest opponents on his way to the winners side final . On the other side of the bracket the highest ranked player from Québec who participated, Francis Crevier, also went undefeated to set up a match with Archer to see who would make it to the Final. Archer dominated this match sending Crevier to the losers side final.
Here he met up with Dany Normandin, who earned enough points in this tournament to be bumped up to Professional. This was a tight match with both players trading racks of each others errors. In the end it looked like Normandin was about to secure the win. With only a few balls remaining at 5-5 race to 6, a miscue on the 7 resulting in ball in hand ended his hopes to play Archer in the final.The rematch between Archer and Crevier was a much tighter affair as it ended 9-8 for Crevier to the delight of the crowd.
In conclusion the Québec Federation is easily the best organization in Canada for amateur players. However in the Pro division they do have a lot of room to grow. If they would find some sponsorship to add money to the prize fund, and extend the pay outs when nearly 100 player show up instead of filling their coffers with the extra money these tournaments could turn into some big events. With a proper pay structure and a calcutta I know that would attract players like John & Mario Morra as well as Erik Hjorleifson. I am sure some American players would make the trip as well, at the end of the day things can and should be done to improve this division. By keeping the staggered entry’s and making these a two day events there is no reason why 128 players would not show up each time. Hopefully this protest before the tournament did not go unnoticed. Congratulations to Francis Crevier for his big win as this was the last Pro event until the finals in May.